Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Pants on, pants off

As a hip and trendy writer about town, I like to keep up with the latest fashions. Okay, that's not entirely true. If I have clothes that I like, I'll wear the fuckers until they are just bare wisps of thread. One of the many perks of this job is that when you're writing at home, you can be a total slob. Jeans that are too big for you, that dirty t-shirt that should have gone in the wash a long time ago, no shoes or socks, unshaven - and you should see me when I'm at home. But occasionally we have to go out into the big, scary world, and meet people. Important people. People who want to pay you money to make shit up. So what do you wear? This is something I've had trouble with, and in all of the screenwriting guides and sites and books there is no definitive answer. It should be really simple, but there are all sorts of factors to consider.

When I first started meeting people - producers, film company folk, whatever - I would wear my best, smartest, newest clothes. I thought, they're thinking of paying me money to make shit up, so I should look like an intelligent, well off, professional person. After a few of them, I thought that maybe I shouldn't be acting like it was a job interview. That implies that I might not get the job, because I'm all dressed up and trying to impress them. Do I really expect them to believe that I dress like this all the time? I'm an absent minded writing type, for Christ's sake. So I started going more casual, closer to my usual daily getup.

When I read Mr Friedman's piece on this, I thought about it again. He says that sweatpants and the just-rolled-out-of-bed look are definitely the way to go. His reasoning is that it shows you are powerful - I'm such a great writer, I can turn up looking like shit, cause I'm creative and stuff, so pay me to make shit up. This is a valid argument. So I went even further in that direction, wearing the stuff I'd wear to pick up milk from Budgens if I thought nobody would see me - ultra casual, flirting with scruffy. Hey, I'm the creative one, they want me for my writing, not my clothes. I did that for a while, until Jo informed me that I may have gone *slightly* too far in that direction, and that I might need to pull it back just a tad. I haven't asked her yet, but I think that was her polite way of saying "you look like shite". Her reasoning was that sure, you need to express yourself and not dress up too much, but you probably need to not look like a tramp.

So my usual gear consists of: a pair of jeans or cargo/combat/whatever trousers, a t-shirt or casual shirt, and a reasonably respectable jacket or a zip-up jumper or fleece. Pretty much the same stuff I wear to pick up milk from Budgens, but that wouldn't embarrass me if I bumped into a friend. I'll usually shave up to 3 days beforehand, too - I don't need to be clean shaven, but after 3 days I tend to look like I've got dirt all over my chin, and not in a cool way. I mean, I'm not going to wear something I don't feel comfortable in, just to make an impression, but it's better if I don't look like my usual house slob self. So if you've landed your first meeting with a producer, someone in a film company or whatever, there's no need to dress up - but there's no harm in looking a bit presentable. But casual. Always casual. Now pay me to make shit up.

What do you folks out there wear to meetings and things? Obviously it depends on whether the meeting is in their office or a pub/coffee shop, but do you obsess over it as much as I do? I'm going to the Severance cast and crew screening tomorrow, and I have no idea what I should wear, don't even know if they're all dressing up or not. I'll probably turn up in a tutu and a binbag, to cover all the bases.


Dom Carver said...

I suggest you wear neon pink hot-pants and nipple rings if you want to make an entrance.

Or if you've seen the photo of Tony Jordan in Broadcast this week then you want to get one of those 'Knight Rider' 80's leather jackets he was wearing. They scream power!!!

Danny Stack said...

Excellent topic!

Usually, I go the 'smart casual' route: basic, flirting with bohemia, maybe a little bit scruffy too, but still presentable to get by a bouncer at a club.

Anonymous said...

since I've never had a professional meeting I can only tell you that when I sit here and write... from the waist up I look fairly casual

soulmining said...

So...it's nearly midnight on Wednesday... what did you wear, and how did the screening go?

Anonymous said...

Screening went very well. James was smasual to the n'th degree. Derren Brown was there, so was Ed Harcourt. But more importantly, so was a smasually dressed James Moran!

Tim Clague said...

I think you have to go with whatever suits YOU. Most of the time you aren't selling the script you are selling YOUR ability to work on it. So 'lying by wearing false clothes' should be avoided.